Annual Report 2019

Discover DeCrypt is a charity based in the Church of St Mary de Crypt and the adjacent old schoolroom in Southgate Street in the centre of Gloucester. Our recent £2.1 million restoration project was made possible through a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from other trusts, organisations and individuals. We opened our doors to visitors in March 2019, aiming to share our faith in Jesus Christ, the story of our history and heritage and the life of our city. The opening was marked by a well-attended Service of Celebration, in which community groups participated and a sermon was preached by the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester.
We are now able to offer a range of volunteering opportunities, including valuable experience for young people looking to move into employment and older people offering skills and time for the benefit of the community. We operate an exciting programme of regular activities and events in both the church and the schoolroom, involving a wide range of partners. In the nine months since March 2019 these have drawn in a total of 26,023 visitors. Whilst this is in itself a hugely encouraging figure – nearly double the target we set in our business plan – what is even more uplifting is the overwhelmingly positive comments made by those who have visited:

“Amazing transformation; wonderful space to wander in, so light and welcoming. Excellent job done!”

“The blend of open access in combination with the ‘spiritual’ is delightful. Nicely done!”

“A lovely welcome, a lively church and a cup of tea and sit down in peace and quiet, very gratefully enjoyed.”

“Fantastic schoolroom, so much for the children to do; a lovely, little find.”

“The really warm welcome from the greeters makes such a difference”.

As well as being open for general visitors five days a week, Discover DeCrypt hosts events and activities, which are provided either by us or by our partner organisations. Using the headline banner of ‘Faith’, ‘Story’ and ‘Life’, these events have been designed to meet the four-fold objectives of the charity as follows:

Objective 1 – To offer people a sacred space to engage with and explore spirituality

We remain a consecrated church within the parish of Hempsted with St Mary de Lode and St Mary de Crypt, Gloucester

Regular worship is held in the Nave with a weekly service of Prayers for the City and a monthly Eucharist

The Raikes Chapel is maintained as a space for private prayer and contemplation on a daily basis

Weekly Coffee, Cake and Conversation sessions provide an informal meeting place and support for those who need a listening ear

A range of special services have formed part of several events in the City, including the Tall Ships Festival, the Pride March and Gloucester Day

Breath-taking special events were held to mark Gloucester’s involvement in Kindertransport eighty years ago and the ongoing work of Garas among the refugees of today

We hosted a weekend-long Festival of Death and Life with nationally-known guest speakers, music, poetry and other activities

Some services, such as the Transgender Day of Remembrance, have been particularly innovative.

Objective 2 – To put our resources to work for the common good, so people can learn new skills and access support

The regular bookings we have see the premises used by a range of groups, including local choirs, adult education life skills classes and a tai chi group

Cuddesdon Gloucester & Hereford makes weekly use of the building for its ordinand training

A Creative Crafty Club has met during the school holidays, involving children in art, drama, games and puzzles

Exhibitions have included a schools’ ‘Encounters’ artwork competition, the Artshape contemporary art exhibition and ‘The World on our Doorstep’ exhibition by Garas

Particularly spectacular was the Strike-A-Light scratch circus held in the Nave complete with rig, lighting and live music and involving young people collaborating with experienced arts professionals.

Objective 3 – To preserve our heritage, keeping the buildings in good repair and making our history accessible to all, so that people can enjoy and learn from it

Interpretation roundels and other signage guide visitors around the church; the use of a specially-designed app and a talking pen trail provides a novel aspect for this tour

Our Historical Research Group has published a new book, ‘Hidden Lives’, which records and celebrates the lives of some of the ordinary parishioners of the past

We took a full part in the Gloucester History Festival with tours of the church and tower, a presentation of ‘Rotten Luck’, a play about the 19th century judicial system, and an exhibition on Robert Raikes and prison reform

The local base for Godly Play materials and library books from the former diocesan resource centre are now situated on the premises

We now have a pack of resources ready for use with school groups.

Objective 4 – To promote a community space that is affordable, accessible and welcoming, so that people can build relationships and engage with the community

Regular Saturday morning coffee concerts are held in the church, featuring a local community choir, musicians from schools, visiting professional groups and individual artists

The Schools’ Poetry Slam and a regular programme of storytelling events have been held for youngsters during school holidays

We provided a high quality venue for a number of concerts and rehearsals during the world-renowned ‘Three Choirs Festival’, which was held in Gloucester in August 2019

A number of the groups which meet regularly in the schoolroom are peer-led, including Artists in Recovery and the LGBT+ Partnership

An extensive flower festival, part of the city’s Tall Ships weekend, was well-attended

The Three Shires Craft Fair brought in over 3,000 visitors over a weekend prior to Christmas

Talks and concerts have been held as part of the Christian Arts Festival, the Art in the City Festival and the Gloucester Summer of Music, Arts and Culture

A number of plays have been presented by University of Gloucestershire students and other groups; they have included ‘The Overcoat’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, and ‘Being Hamlet’, ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Every Brilliant Thing’.

Charity Details

Registered Charity Number: 1167097

Address: St Mary de Crypt Church and School, Southgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1TP


The following have been trustees throughout the year: Rev Canon Nicola Arthy (Ex-Officio Chair); Mr Peter Gould (Treasurer); and Rev Dr Sandra Millar.

During the course of the year they were joined in May by Mr David Evans (Secretary) and in September by Ms Ursula Corcoran.

Trustees are either nominated by the PCC or appointed by the Chair following consultation with existing trustees. The full Board of Trustees has four meetings a year, whilst a smaller group referred to as the Operations Board meets each month.

The charity employs an Operations Manager and a Community, Arts and Events Manager and others in duty manager and caretaker roles. We also rely extensively on a committed team of volunteers, who work hard to help make Discover Decrypt the lively and vibrant community it is.

David Evans on behalf of the Discover DeCrypt Trustees, January 2020

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